As golf cart violations are rising in Florida, sheriff departments warn the public that violators will receive citations. According to Florida’s law enforcement, operating an unregistered golf cart or other low-speed vehicles on public roadways is a violation. Drug and alcohol use while operating a golf cart is a crime too.
In Florida, you can get charged, convicted, and arrested for drug use while operating a golf cart. Even though golf carts are not technically considered “motor vehicles,” police can still arrest you for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No matter where or how you get it, a DUI is a DUI, and there are consequences.
What Do Florida Laws Say About Golf Cart DUIs and Drugged Driving?
Under Florida Statutes § 316.003, golf carts are motor vehicles designed and made for operation on a golf course or for sporting and recreational purposes. Therefore, golf cart owners and operators have different requirements than car and truck operators.
For example, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) does not require golf carts to have registration or insurance. However, modified golf carts that meet the standards of being a “low-speed vehicle” require registration.
When it comes to a drug or alcohol DUI, golf cart drivers can face the same charges and consequences as regular car drivers.
When Can a Law Enforcement Officer Arrest You for a Golf Cart Violation?
A Florida law enforcement officer might approach you and can arrest if:
- They see you driving on an unauthorized road
- They witness your driving the golf car erratically or recklessly
- They see you violate traffic laws, such as an illegal turn
- If you are drinking or holding an alcoholic beverage while driving
- If they have any other probable cause to pull you over
If the law enforcement official had no valid reason to pull you over, your defense attorney could address this.
Upon pulling you over, the officer might ask you to take a field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. They might arrest you if you refuse to cooperate and take the test. Additionally, a law enforcement officer might arrest you for the following:
- Failing the field sobriety test
- Registering a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher
What Are the Penalties for Conviction of Drugged
Driving on Golf Carts in Florida?
Florida golf cart operators can be convicted of drugged driving while under the influence of “harmful chemicals” or “controlled substances” (Fla. Stat. Ann §316.193.) The penalties for drugged driving are similar to drunk driving, but there are some key distinctions.
Florida defines a driver as “under the influence” if their normal faculties are impaired due to taking drugs. That means the drugs have impacted the driver’s mental or physical capacities. Furthermore, you can get charged and convicted of drugged driving in Florida. That includes driving while impaired or under the influence of marijuana, other recreational drugs, and even prescription drugs.
Penalties for drugged driving are similar to the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. The consequences can vary depending on the nature of your offense. However, here is a general guide for drugged driving penalties:
- First offense
- Up to six months in jail
- $500 to $1000 in fines
- Minimum of 50 hours of community service
- License suspension of 6 months to 1 year
- Second offense (within five years of first offense)
- Ten days to 9 months of jail time
- $1000 to $2000 min fines
- License revocation of five years or more
- Third offense (within ten years of first offense)
- 30 days to five years of jail time
- $2000 to $5000 fines
- Minimum of 10 years of license revocation
What Are Considered Harmful Chemicals and Controlled Substances Under Florida Law?
Florida’s drugged driving statute specifically references harmful chemicals and controlled substances.
Harmful chemicals include:
- nitrous oxide
- isopropyl alcohol
- and other chemicals (e.g., acetone, toluene, or other recreational drugs users inhale or “huff” to get high)
Controlled substances include:
- Cannabinoids (marijuana)
- Opiates (heroin)
- Opioids (fentanyl)
- Stimulant drugs and methamphetamines (cocaine)
- Hallucinogens (Psilocybin, LSD)
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax)
- Painkillers (OxyContin and Vicodin)
What Proof Does the Defense Need to Convict Me With a Golf Cart Drug DUI?
To convict someone of DUI or drugged driving, the prosecutor must show that the defendant or cart operator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If alcohol or drugs were not physically present, drugged driving or DUI cases are very difficult to prove. That’s because there are so many other factors that can cause driver impairment. For example, the defendant could assert that their impaired driving was due to:
- Mental illness
- Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
- Sleep deprivation or fatigue
- Other natural causes
Driving Under the Influence of Recreational Drugs While Operating a Golf Cart
In Florida, if the prosecutor wants to convict you of drugged driving, they must show more than just drugs in your system. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was actually under the influence to the degree of being impaired and unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs While Operating a Golf Cart
It’s also possible to get charged and convicted of drugged driving while using prescription or over-the-counter medications. If the substances impair your faculties so much that they limit your ability to drive, you can get charged.
While many people realize they can get convicted of drugged driving while under the influence of recreational drugs. However, you can also get charged and convicted for drugged driving under the influence of prescription drugs. That includes any prescription medication, even if taken as directed by your doctor. For example, if you take anxiety medication or allergy medication, that can significantly impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Unreliable Testing Procedures Used by Law Enforcement in Florida
Often, the arresting officer lacks specialized training and is not a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Drug testing is not always 100% reliable and sometimes the police officer giving them is fallible too. But even so, the officer’s observations may be admissible in court.
However, a defense attorney might be able to help exclude certain pieces of evidence at trial. For example, if there was an admission of drug use, your attorney might be able to have that excluded from the trial.
Involuntary Intoxication Defense in a Drug DUI Case
Sometimes the defense can use the “involuntary intoxication defense.” This is usually used for drugged driving cases involving the legal use of medication where the driver accidentally ingested too much of the medicine. As a result, the defendant could argue that the medication unexpectedly affected them or affected them differently than they intended.
In such a case, if drug use is found to be “involuntary,” there is a Florida law that recognizes the “involuntary intoxication defense” (Carter v. State, 710 So.2d 110 (Florida 4th DCA 1998).
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Charged With Drugged Driving on a Golf Cart?
Drugged driving in Florida is classified as a criminal offense. Therefore, you can hire a Florida criminal defense lawyer to represent you. With the help of an experienced defense lawyer, you could reduce or dismiss the charges against you.
Your attorney can help you devise a winning defense strategy. They will discuss the ideal outcome for you and your unique case. Whatever the circumstances, your defense attorney will try to resolve your case to minimize harm to you and your reputation.
Contact a Florida Defense Attorney Today
You have options after getting arrested and charged with drugged driving while operating a golf cart in Florida. An experienced Florida DUI defense attorney can help spare you a conviction and criminal charges on your record. These are serious allegations that everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves against.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation.